U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac and USAID's Global Water Coordinator, Chris Holmes, along with officials from the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC), joined local residents at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new pipeline that will bring clean drinking water to densely-populated areas of Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County.
At the ceremony January 16, Ambassador Malac described the pipeline as "the first step in the development of a larger distribution system for piped water that will ensure that 90% of Robertsport's citizens will have access to clean water."
Ambassador Malac acknowledged the important role the community and the Local Steering Committee have played in working to make the pipeline a reality: "I realize that many of you have put in an enormous amount of time and energy and passion into this committee. For that I extend my congratulations. Liberia needs citizens like you who care about and get involved in the forward movement of this country."
"The U.S. Government has been supporting this project since 2011 to undertake feasibility studies, develop master designs, and work with you to establish an institutional framework for Robertsport's water system," the Ambassador added. "We are committed to seeing this work through its completion in partnership with the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation, the Government of Liberia, and the Local Steering Committee."
In his remarks, USAID Global Water Coordinator Chris Holmes said that during his visits to Monrovia, Bong County, and Robertsport he has come to appreciate the formidable challenges Liberia faces in expanding access to clean drinking water to all its citizens.
He said Liberia remains an important priority for USAID's water program and said that the U.S. Government, through USAID, remains committed to supporting the country's efforts to make a transformative impact on access to clean water. The pipeline expands access to water from a small treatment facility rehabilitated in 2013 by LWSC and USAID on the site of the former Robertsport municipal water treatment plant. By April 2013, the facility was selling more than 8,000 liters of clean water per day to Robertsport residents at a cost of only five Liberian Dollars (LD) per 20-liter jerrycan. The water system is the first in Liberia to be co-managed by LWSC, together with local city authorities, with local revenues solely dedicated to covering operation and maintenance costs, providing a model based on cost recovery and accountability for other cities.
The project inaugurated on Thursday will include installation of more than 5,000 feet (nearly one mile) of pipe from the existing facility down Monrovia Road to Gbassalor Road and toward the Fanti Town Community, along with four community kiosks.
The event represents a milestone for the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation, which has been working hand-in-hand with the USAID-funded Liberia Municipal Water Project and the Sustainable Water and Sanitation in Africa Project (SUWASA) to re-establish piped drinking water in three county capitals (Robertsport, Voinjama, and Sanniquellie) for the first time in more than two decades.
The project is being implemented in close collaboration with a sister project implemented by the African Development Bank, which is rehabilitating water and sanitation infrastructure in four additional cities: Kakata, Zwedru, Buchanan and Monrovia. USAID and its partners are also supporting the LWSC to build local capability to operate and maintain the local water systems. The LMWP project will ultimately ensure that up to 90% of the populations of USAID's three target cities have access to clean drinking water.
The ceremony was held at the location of a planned public water kiosk near Fanti Town in Robertsport. Remarking that "water is life", Mayor James Kiazulo and Development Superintendent Tenneh Kpadebah thanked the U.S. Government and USAID for their commitment to providing piped water to Robertsport's citizens.